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Anxiety disorders much more likely among COPD patients

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The prevalence of generalised anxiety disorder for older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is much higher than among those without the condition, according to Canadian researchers.

In a study by the University of Toronto, patients with COPD were found to be over three times more likely you have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), compared to those without.

“Screening for anxiety may be particularly important for patients who lack a strong social network”

Ashley Lacombe-Duncan

Sleep problems, chronic pain, and functional limitations, partially explained some of the excess risk for anxiety among those with COPD, said the researchers in COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Lead study author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson said: “Even after accounting for 18 possible risk factors for GAD, individuals with COPD still had 70% higher odds of GAD compared to those without COPD”.

The study was based upon a sample of 11,163 Canadians aged 50 and over drawn, of which more than 700 had been diagnosed with COPD.

Key risk factors for GAD among those with COPD included lack of social support and exposure to parental domestic violence during the older adults’ childhood.

Dr Fuller-Thomson said the study “highlights how healthcare providers can play a significant role in identifying and providing promising interventions to reduce anxiety for individuals with COPD, in particular by screening for and addressing pain and functional limitations and targeting those most at risk”.

Study co-author Ashley Lacombe-Duncan added: “Our findings suggest that screening for anxiety may be particularly important for patients who lack a strong social network. Individuals with COPD may be prone to social isolation, particularly if they also experience functional limitations that impair mobility.”

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